Assume the Position

Friday, August 30, 2002
Somebody in Johannesburg for the WSSD has a clue.
African and Asian farmers, and hawkers from across South Africa handed over a "Bullshit Trophy" (yes, that is the trophy's real name) to Greenpeace, the Third World Network and BioWatch for their contribution to the "preservation of poverty" in developing countries.

The trophy comprises of a piece of wood on which two heaps of dried cow-dung - "unfortunately not elephant dung" - are mounted.

Barun Mitra of the Sustainable Development Network (SDN), a coalition of non-governmental organisations which believes, among other things, that sustainable development is attainable only through free trade, officiated at the symbolic handing-over in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Mitra denounced the three NGOs as parasites which "prey on the blood of the poor" and did not help to improve agricultural productivity in the Third World.

"They are not interested in famine or poverty. This lot is concerned only about their own interests.

"They sit here at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in their rich man's hotels and romanticise everything," he said.

(link via The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
along with a choice fisking of France)
The article had no comments from the honored recipients, expect them to churn out a boilerplate news release in the next few days, "The SDN is just a front for greedy Western corporations…pillage…pollute…destroy…exploitation…blah…blah…blah…"

Thursday, August 29, 2002
What's it gonna take? The report that White House "Lawyers Say Iraq Decision Is Bush's" without need for further Congressional approval has caused much consternation in the expected places. Jeff Cooper's brief analysis disagreeing with the White House lawyers' position is well worth reading. His conclusion, sans political opinion, is:
A straightforward consideration of the Constitution and prior resolutions of Congress, then, suggests that the administration needs to obtain congressional approval before initiating a war against Iraq. A clever lawyer, no doubt, could formulate counterarguments in support of presidential action without congressional approval.
Actually, it may not take a clever lawyer, just changing the question might do the trick. Can the president initiate a war against Iraq without congressional approval? might be the wrong question. Possibly, this question should be considered instead: Can the president escalate an ongoing war without congressional approval? The answer is probably yes.

I am not talking about escalating the War on Terror if sufficient evidence is found linking Iraq to direct support of international terrorism, I am talking about the ongoing war (state of armed hostilities) with Iraq. The war where Iraq routinely launches SAMs and fires AAA at US aircraft and the US routinely blows up their SAM, AAA, integrated air defense, and command and control sites. Let's look back one year ago, prior to the WTC / Pentagon / Flight 93 attacks, to August 2001 and see what was happening with Operation NORTHERN WATCH (ONW) and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH (OSW) in the No-Fly Zones in Iraq:

August 7, 2001: "Iraqi forces launched surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and fired anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) from sites north of Mosul while ONW aircraft conducted routine enforcement of the Northern No-Fly Zone. Coalition aircraft responded to the Iraqi attacks by dropping ordnance on elements of the Iraqi integrated air defense system."

Aug 10, 2001: ". . .Operation SOUTHERN WATCH Coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons today in a routine strike against military communication, radar and missile sites in southern Iraq. . ."

August 14, 2001: ". . . Operation SOUTHERN WATCH Coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons today to strike a surface-to-air missile site in southern Iraq . . ."

August 17, 2001: "Iraqi forces threatened Operation Northern Watch (ONW) coalition aircraft today by firing anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) from sites north of Mosul. Coalition aircraft were also targeted by Iraqi radar while conducting routine enforcement of the Northern No-Fly Zone. Coalition aircraft responded to the Iraqi attacks by delivering ordnance on elements of the Iraqi integrated air defense system."

August 25, 2001: ". . .Operation SOUTHERN WATCH Coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons today to strike a mobile early warning radar system in southern Iraq . . ."

August 27, 2001: "Iraqi forces fired anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) from sites north of Mosul while ONW aircraft conducted routine enforcement of the Northern No-Fly Zone. Coalition aircraft responded to the Iraqi attacks by dropping ordnance on elements of the Iraqi integrated air defense system."

August 28, 2001: ". . . Operation SOUTHERN WATCH Coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons today to strike Command and Control sites in southern Iraq . . ."

August 30, 2001: ". . . Operation SOUTHERN WATCH Coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons today to strike a military radar in southern Iraq . . ."

That probably would have sounded like "war" to most people, if anybody had bothered to keep track of it. Replace the targets and locations and it sounds quite a bit like the latter stages of the war in Afghanistan—coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons to strike a suspected al Qaeda compound in southern Afghanistan. The airstrikes in Iraq have been going on with only a few breaks, month after month, since the "end" of the Gulf War in 1991. After the weapons inspectors left in 1998 and France dropped out of the coalition leaving only the US and Britain, there were 163 "strike days" in 1999 (102 ONW and 61 OSW) and 80 in 2000 (48 ONW and 32 OSW).

Additionally, there are the events of September 1996 to consider. Iraqi forces joined with the Kurdistan Democratic Party to attack the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan forces who controlled Irbil within the Northern No-Fly Zone. Clinton's response was to launch 44 cruise missiles over 2 days at some 14 targets in the Southern No-Fly Zone and expand the Southern No-Fly Zone northward from the 32nd to the 33rd parallel, extending it to within 30 miles of Baghdad. (The Northern No-Fly Zone extends down to the 36th parallel.) Although this was written off as a political campaign move by Iran and Russia and condemned by China, the other major nations either supported the action or let it slide.

Some U.S. allies reacted coolly Tuesday to the U.S. missile strike against Iraqi military targets, including France, which said it preferred a "political solution." Britain, Germany and Japan endorsed U.S. President Bill Clinton's decision to use force. Russia and China were critical.

On Sep 5th, 1996, the Senate passed (96 to 1) S.Res.288 commending "the military actions taken by and the performance of the United States Armed Forces, under the direction of the Commander-in-Chief, for carrying out this military mission in a highly professional, efficient and effective manner," with full recognition that the US had "announc[ed] the expansion of the southern no-fly zone over Iraq." But nobody had given Clinton prior authorization for that escalation.

Those who call for continued containment are loathe to admit that containment means continuing the low-grade air war the US has been waging for 11 years. But if that air war has been and still is legal (at least as far as US laws are concerned), what "legality" prevents Bush from expanding the Northern and Southern No-Fly Zones to meet at the 34th parallel? What "legality" prevents Bush from changing them into No Military Hardware Zones and bombing tanks and artillery along with the SAM, AAA, and air defense sites? What "legality" prevents Bush from introducing ground forces at some point after sufficient aerial bombardment? Right now, nothing.

Congress could always try to pass legislation preventing it, but they haven't yet. And it might not be politically "prudent" for them to try, just like it probably wouldn't be politically advisable for Bush to massively escalate the war without consulting Congress. But, politics aside, so long as it's "escalation" rather than "initiating a war," there doesn't seem to be much legally standing in the way.

[The War Powers Resolution, which has never been Constitutionally tested, is rarely mentioned. Neither Congress nor Presidents like it. In short, it's a standing Congressional authorization (Public Law 93-148) for the President to introduce US military forces into "hostilities" (or increase the numbers involved), which is why Congress really doesn't like it, but it limits the engagement to 60-days if Congress fails to authorize a continuance, which is why Presidents don't like it. In either case, it is only slightly applicable to Iraq, because US forces have been engaged in "hostilities" there for over 11 years and it seems highly unlikely that Congress would refuse to authorize a continuance if Bush escalated those hostilities.]

The man does it again with a Lileks' Screed that nails the miserable reprobates of the left to the cross of their depraved ideology.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002
Here is the original "War games rigged?" article by Sean Naylor in the Army Times that started it all (link via Jim Henley). It's much fuller than the "how much of this can we copy or paraphrase without getting into trouble" reporting of the story in the major media. But still, it's tone relies on the selective quoting of Gen. Kernan's press briefing:
“This is free play,” he [Kernan] said. “The OPFOR has the ability to win here.”

“Not so,” Van Riper told Army Times.

As I showed in my previous entry, Kernan followed that with, "We try -- you know, but we are controlling certain things so that we can satisfy the objectives." Kernan also explained the difference between an exercise and an experiment like Millennium Challenge '02, "An experiment, you're continually fooling with the rheostat. You're changing things. It's an iterative process."

Naylor's article does provide more perspective on Gen. Van Riper, none of it surprising:

Van Riper expressed bitter frustration with what he viewed as the experiment’s failure to challenge the command’s future war-fighting concepts, of which he acknowledged he had been “a vocal critic.”

. . .

Van Riper’s single-mindedness can sometimes rub other experiment participants the wrong way, said a retired Army officer who has played in several war games with the Marine.

“What he’s done is he’s made himself an expert in playing Red, and he’s real obnoxious about it,” the retired officer said. “He will insist on being able to play Red as freely as possible and as imaginatively and creatively within the bounds of the framework of the game and the technology horizons and all that as possible.

“He can be a real pain in the ass, but that’s good. But a lot of people don’t like to sign up for that sort of agitation. But he’s a great guy, and he’s a great patriot and he’s doing all those things for the right reasons.”

And to answer Bill Quick's question of, "if van Riper is such a loser, how did he get to the position of commanding the Red Force in the biggest, most important military wargame in history?" I don't know that anybody said he was a loser, to quote myself, "There is nothing wrong with being an old-school Marine, and certainly anybody who throws Clausewitz out the window is looking for trouble; but ignoring or rejecting new concepts for the use of force made available by technological advances because they fall outside Clausewitz's framework isn't necessarily right." Van Riper was tapped to play because he's good at it, but that doesn't make his analysis of the outcome correct.
Van Riper used motorcycle messengers to transmit orders, negating Blue’s high-tech eavesdropping capabilities, [retired Ambassador Robert] Oakley [Red civilian leader] said. Then, when the Blue fleet sailed into the Persian Gulf early in the experiment, Van Riper’s forces surrounded the ships with small boats and planes sailing and flying in apparently innocuous circles.

When the Blue commander issued an ultimatum to Red to surrender or face destruction, Van Riper took the initiative, issuing attack orders via the morning call to prayer broadcast from the minarets of his country’s mosques. His force’s small boats and aircraft sped into action[.]

“By that time there wasn’t enough time left to intercept them,” Oakley said. As a result of Van Riper’s cunning, much of the Blue navy ended up at the bottom of the ocean. The Joint Forces Command officials had to stop the exercise and “refloat” the fleet in order to continue, Oakley said.

Should the US immediately defund and scrap all "high-tech eavesdropping" equipment because an enemy can defeat it by passing notes hand-to-hand? Was the damage to the fleet caused by a failure of the underlying doctrine or just by mistakes by Blue's commander?
“We were directed … to move air defenses so that the Army and Marine units could successfully land,” [Van Riper] said. “We were simply directed to turn [the air-defense systems] off or move them. … So it was scripted to be whatever the control group wanted it to be.”
The problem with calling that "rigging" is that this was a time-limited experiment, three-weeks to cram in everything Joint Forces Command wanted to test. Now, in the Gulf War, the US bombed for a month before the first ground units moved in, and there is nothing to say that in MC02 the Air Force and Navy couldn't have played aerial "seek and destroy" aka "SCUD hunt" against Red's "bob and weave, hide and seek" mobile air-defense strategy for two or three months before sending in ground forces except for the artificial three-week time constraint on MC02.

It seems that Van Riper's analysis is that so long as he could force the game into 'overtime' then he would have invalidated "the concepts of rapid decisive operations, effects-based operations, [and] operational net assessment," and anything done to move the game along to the next stage was "rigging."

Van Riper basically has an all-or-nothing philosophy of war and his opposition to any concepts related to limited war, such as those under evaluation, were well known, thus his analysis of the outcome is no surprise. Likewise, the analysis by advocates for the concepts shouldn't surprise anybody, either, but how (and if) those concepts are finalized and (more importantly) implemented is another story.

Monday, August 26, 2002
Rip Van Riper Reporting Was "Rigged." Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper, USMC, Ret., is a Marine and a Luddite. The first, being a Marine, conditions his view of the other armed services: the job of the Navy is to transport his Marines, the job of the Air Force is to clear the sky of threats to his Marines, and the job of the Army is to hold territory his Marines have captured and generally clean up after them. The second, being a military Luddite, means that while he doesn't strictly oppose high-tech systems, he opposes the changes to military doctrine made available by high-tech systems.
Our objection is not to technology itself, but rather to claims that it will permit the achievement of victory by distant punishment alone, with no need to exert direct and continuing influence over the land, people, and resources which are war's ultimate stakes. In addition to what history reveals about the inherent nature of war, our own military experience in this century argues the contrary.

Preparing for War in the 21st Century
Paul Van Riper and Robert H. Scales, Jr.
Parameters, Autumn 1997, pp. 4-14
There is nothing wrong with being an old-school Marine, and certainly anybody who throws Clausewitz out the window is looking for trouble; but ignoring or rejecting new concepts for the use of force made available by technological advances because they fall outside Clausewitz's framework isn't necessarily right.

Two years after the above essay, General Van Riper testified before the House Armed Services Committee. It was five weeks or so into the 1999 limited NATO air campaign in Kosovo against Milosevic and there was to be a vote on 4 bills:
1. Withdraw.
2. Declare war.
3. Continue airstrikes.
4. Prohibit introduction of ground elements.

Congressman Gene Taylor (D - Miss) asks what his vote would be [emphasis mine]:

General VAN RIPER. Mr. Congressman, I would vote for withdrawal. The object of war is to impose our will on the enemy, and war must serve policy. The means of war must meet the political ends. As I understand from the media, the ends of this war was to prevent ethnic cleansing. We have lost the war.

Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, sir.

General VAN RIPER. If we want to do something different, we need to step back and decide what are the ends we are trying to achieve? What are the ends, as the Chairman has indicated, this country needs and wants to pursue? If they are, we need to follow Clausewitz' dictum that you must have the Army, Armed Forces in general, the people, and the government all pulling in trace; and until we reach that condition we should not go to war.

Mr. TAYLOR. General, should that motion fail, the next vote is to declare war. How then would you vote?

General VAN RIPER. If that fails, I would reluctantly vote to go to war; and I would insist that we prosecute it as a war.

War entails all elements: Air, naval, and land. The strength of this country and its Armed Forces has always been combined arms, and any time we have tried to fight with a single element, we have met disaster.

Suffice it to say that we did not withdraw, nor did we declare war. The air campaign, sloppy as it was, continued another six weeks or so and the Serbs withdrew from Kosovo, the Yugoslav government eventually got rid of Milosevic, and his war crimes trial continues in the Hague. It might not have been the cleanest victory imaginable, but it certainly wasn't a "disaster," and it was pretty much achieved "by distant punishment alone" without the use of US ground forces as warfighters.

One of General Van Riper's pet peeves is the "system of systems" concept for "precision engagement" at the core of Joint Vision 2010 and Joint Vision 2020, "the conceptual template established . . . to guide the continuing transformation of America's Armed Forces" [emphasis mine]:

Simply put, precision engagement is effects-based engagement that is relevant to all types of operations. Its success depends on in-depth analysis to identify and locate critical nodes and targets. The pivotal characteristic of precision engagement is the linking of sensors, delivery systems, and effects. In the joint force of the future, this linkage will take place across Services and will incorporate the applicable capabilities of multinational and interagency partners when appropriate. The resulting system of systems will provide the commander the broadest possible range of capabilities in responding to any situation, including both kinetic and nonkinetic weapons capable of creating the desired lethal or nonlethal effects.

The concept of precision engagement extends beyond precisely striking a target with explosive ordnance. Information superiority will enhance the capability of the joint force commander to understand the situation, determine the effects desired, select a course of action and the forces to execute it, accurately assess the effects of that action, and reengage as necessary while minimizing collateral damage. During conflict, the commander will use precision engagement to obtain lethal and nonlethal effects in support of the objectives of the campaign. This action could include destroying a target using conventional forces, inserting a special operations team, or even the execution of a comprehensive psychological operations mission. In other cases, precision engagement may be used to facilitate dominant maneuver and decisive close combat. The commander may also employ nonkinetic weapons, particularly in the arena of information operations where the targets might be key enemy leaders or troop formations, or the opinion of an adversary population.

In noncombat situations, precision engagement activities will, naturally, focus on nonlethal actions. These actions will be capable of defusing volatile situations, overcoming misinformation campaigns, or directing a flow of refugees to relief stations, for example. Regardless of its application in combat or noncombat operations, the capability to engage precisely allows the commander to shape the situation or battle space in order to achieve the desired effects while minimizing risk to friendly forces and contributing to the most effective use of resources.

Here is General Van Riper's take [emphasis mine]:
The most prominent argument describing how the United States can best exploit the ongoing RMA [Revolution in Military Affairs] is known as the "system of systems" model advocated by former Vice Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Admiral William Owens, USN (Ret.). In contrast to Clausewitz's trinitarian view of warfare composed of primordial violence, chance, and reason, the proponents of what has been called the "American RMA" offer their own trinity. This trinity is composed of three sets of technologies: intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities; advanced command, control, communications, computer, and intelligence tools; and precision strike munitions. The purported advantage of this approach to war is that it removes uncertainty, chance, and risk from the battlespace. "Baldly stated," they claim, "U.S. military forces will be able to apply military force with dramatically greater efficiency than an opponent and do so with little risk to U.S. forces."

To generate this dramatic increase in efficiency, the advocates of this approach suggest that building an RMA-based force should shift investments away from the current manpower-intensive formations such as Army and Marine Corps ground combat units and instead support a long list of information processing systems and precision munitions.

The description of warfare put forward by these advocates can be criticized as overly linear, mechanistic, and technocentric. In fact, technology is more than just central to this model—it consists entirely of technologies. There are no human factors in the American RMA model. Apparently antagonists fight in a predictable, closed-loop environment without the interaction of human will central to Clausewitz's conception of warfare. This is inconsistent with the Tofflers' concept that creating and sustaining knowledge and knowledge warriors is the central resource and competitive advantage in warfare.

The "system of systems" approach to the RMA is not necessarily erroneous, just incomplete or overly focused at the higher end of the conflict spectrum.

Pursuing the Real Revolution in Military Affairs:
Exploiting Knowledge-Based Warfare
Lt. General Paul K. Van Riper, USMC (RET.)
and Lt. Colonel F.G. Hoffman, USMCR
National Security Studies Quarterly, Summer 1998
Which brings us to Joint Forces Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02), "the largest military experiment in history," two years in development, costing some 250 million dollars, with about 13,500 participants including the 20 percent of the forces engaged in live field exercises in nine different locations, the other "80 percent of the forces involved are simulated" through a "virtual battlespace" linking "42 model simulations into the largest and most complex simulation federation ever built." (If you only follow one link, follow the MC02 link above to get some idea of the scope of this experiment. Even if it is military PR it still provides a good overview of what was being attempted.)
    Just a few of the trials going on:
  • "Underneath the broad scope of Millennium Challenge 20O2 the Navy is conducting Fleet Battle Experiment Juliet (FBE-J), a multifaceted experiment that evaluates new technologies, concepts and platforms in a futuristic wartime scenario. . . . As the Navy's designated Sea-Based Battle Lab (SBBL), Coronado provides the critical elements necessary for experimenting with prototype command and control systems and software - evaluating future naval capabilities for today's Sailor."
  • The Air Force's 11-day Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2002 (JEFX 02), with a goal "to make the kill chain of find, fix, track, target, engage and assess faster and more effective; to improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance management of the battlespace; and to refine expeditionary air operations centers to use technologies to automate many of the operational processes."
  • The Army Space Command's "Space Support Element is supporting the Army Forces headquarters element - the XVIII Airborne Corps' 82nd Airborne Division - as part of the Army Transformation Experiment 02, the Army's contribution to Millennium Challenge. The capabilities of the SSE allow warfighters access to space planning tools and enhanced commercial satellite imagery."
  • The Army's Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles used for Stryker Brigade Combat Teams engaged in their first battles at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., Strykers also experimented with deployment via the HSV-X1 Joint Venture (a wave-piercing catamaran), and the High Mobility Anti-Rocket System (HIMARS) had its live-fire debut.
  • The Marines also got a trial with the Joint Venture "Camp Pendleton Marines came from ship to shore in style July 30 aboard an experimental new high-speed catamaran, which is just one piece of new gear being tested in the vast joint exercise Millennium Challenge 2002. The agile 313-foot HSV-X1 Joint Venture moved nimbly into the Del Mar boat basin here to off-load ground vehicles from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and A Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion convoying north to Victorville to carry on the exercise."
General Kernan, Commander U.S. Joint Forces Command, gave a press briefing the week before Millennium Challenge '02 kicked off [emphasis mine]:
Q: Could you amplify the scenario a little bit more? And could you tell us if it was adjusted in any way after September 11th?

Kernan: Good question. First of all, the scenario itself is classified, but I will tell you that what we have done is we have taken a very realistic look at what we believe the threat will be in '07. This is -- we have a very, very determined OPFOR, both live and simulation. We have people who have -- this is free play. The OPFOR has the ability to win here. It doesn't --

Q: Is that unusual.

Kernan: Pardon me?

Q: Is that unusual.

Kernan: No, no. We try -- you know, but we are controlling certain things so that we can satisfy the objectives. But you have got to have a very robust OPFOR out there to really stress yourself if you are going to get good analytical data and validate the concepts.

. . .

Q: And what is -- is there a difference between an experiment and an exercise, just for the record?

Kernan: Sure. An exercise is when you're going out there and basically validating your current readiness of systems, doctrine, procedures that are common practice.

An experiment, you're continually fooling with the rheostat. You're changing things. It's an iterative process. You don't necessarily know what your findings are going to be. There are going to be some failures. If you're truly experimenting, you're looking at what's within the realm of the possible, and you don't know until you get into it. If you already know what the after-action report's going to look like on an experiment, you've probably not got an experiment. You've just validated a known concept.

So there's going to be some failures out there. We don't know. But I believe we're going to have a heck of a lot more successes than we are failures.

Ok, so we've got the largest military experiment ever run, with a huge number of things we plan to try out in joint operations, some will work and some will fail, and some have to be redone or set aside to allow other planned things to be attempted. What was the result?

"Ex-General Says Wargames Were Rigged", Washington Post, August 16, 2002.

"Retired general says large military exercise was fixed", Arizona Republic, August 17, 2002.

"US war game 'rigged to suit military agenda'", Straits Times, August 18, 2002.

"War Game Cheat Codes", Reason's Weekly Dispatch, August 20, 2002.

"War game was fixed to ensure American victory, claims general", The Guardian, August 21, 2002.

Etc., etc., etc. to include the blogosphere.

So why was that THE story to come out of this three-week extravaganza? Let's see, the OPFOR command, Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper, USMC, Ret., was working for TRW, had long been antagonistic to the "systems of systems" concept, had testified five weeks into the 1999 Kosovo air campaign that "We have lost the war," and as the commander of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command had never advocated hanging offensive weaponry (Hellfire missiles) on a UAV (nor had the other services, I think the CIA gets credit for pushing that novelty into action).

During MC02 he was "outthinking the Blue force," he used motorcycle couriers instead of radios to defeat intel collection platforms, he used small craft that piddled "around in apparently aimless circles before launching a surprise attack which sank a substantial part of the US navy." Apparently at this point, very early into the experiment, the coordinators were supposed to declare Van Riper the "winner," award him "Hero of the Empire, First Class," and cancel the rest of the exercise and tell everybody to go home whether they had even started their part of the exercise or not. Sorry all you Marines and Army folks, your transport into the warzone has been sunk so you don't get to play, we'll decide whether your equipment and tactics work in a joint environment by flipping a coin.

Damn the cheaters, rigging the game by refloating the fleet so the rest of the simulations and field exercises could continue. "It was in actuality an exercise that was almost entirely scripted to ensure a Blue 'win.'" You expected something different? How about the unscripted version where, after you sunk half the fleet, the Air Force just bombed your "low-tech, third-world army" for six weeks until they could round up enough C-17's and C-5's to move a couple of Army divisions in and then rolled over your forces? Would that have been "rigged" because it went beyond the three-week schedule for the game?

Finally, speaking of "rigged," I wonder who "rigged" the ROE (rules of engagement) to allow your small craft to get anywhere near a naval task force in a hot zone in light of the attack on the USS Cole in a notionally "friendly" port and considering the USN has been known to shoot any craft, including a civilian airliner, that are on a threatening course in a combat zone.

Sunday, August 25, 2002
The Fiskatorium has a new guard dog. Mr. Misha, the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, has cornered fresh prey and ripped it to shreds.

Not on my planet. The idea that ultimate end of the environmental movement is to return humanity to a stone age hunter-gatherer society sans hunting is often derided as a strawman. Then the environmentalists go and do stuff like this. (link via Jim Henley)

Next time, just leave 'em. So, John Hawkins and Glenn Reynolds are concluding that Jonathan Turley's LA Times piece "Camps for Citizens: Ashcroft's Hellish Vision" is just some more paranoia induced garbage on the order of anything from Ritt "the Git" Goldstein.

Lindh, Hamdi, Moussaoui and Padilla, the first two of those four were captured on the battlefield and originally held in Afghan custody. That provides a straightforward way to take care of half the problem of "enemy combatants" who happen to be US citizens: just leave them in the host nation's custody. The value of any "intelligence" they could provide isn't worth half the constitutional hassle of putting them in US custody; besides, they could still be questioned to the military and CIA's satisfaction while sitting in an Afghan prison.

After all the fuss that's been made over them, many in the government probably think Lindh and Hamdi should never have left Afghanistan. Better screening of potential detainees to be placed in US custody would help to insure that possible US citizens would be rejected and left to take their chances with Afghani prisoner transport. [Aziz ur Rahman Razekh's, "I can say with confidence that more than 1,000 people died in the containers," is probably another in the standard overestimation of casualties by at least an order of magnitude every time a self-proclaimed human rights worker opens their mouth.]

If the press brings up the question, give them the straight answer:

Reporter: We've heard that there may be several more American citizens among the thousands of Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners in Afghan prisons. What is the government doing to recover them?

White House spokesperson: Nothing. The US does not plan to request the Afghan authorities transfer those prisoners into US custody. Frankly, we don't want them. Their names have been added to the terrorist watch lists and if, for some reason, the Afghan authorities release them and they make their way back to the US they will be arrested and prosecuted under applicable federal laws.

Reporter: But what about the information they might have about terrorist operations?

White House spokesperson: As we found from the cases of Lindh and Hamdi, these people have no important information. We are not going to bargain with them for some meaningless cooperation that they will immediately renege on as soon as they touch US soil. The Afghans have made them available for questioning, so we find there is no need for them to be placed in US custody.

Reporter: That seems rather harsh, how will you explain that position to the families that are concerned about their condition and treatment?

White House spokesperson: Their families can thank the ACLU for that decision. Since the question of detaining "enemy combatants" who are American citizens has become so daunting, we have decided to treat these cases similarly to any wanted American criminals who have fled to foreign countries. That means the DOJ can fully investigate these people and their activities and build a case for trial, but will not attempt to take custody of them or extradite them until the investigation is complete. Since these individuals are fairly unimportant and the cases against them will be complex and probably interconnected, it may be years before we are ready to prosecute; in the meantime, we know where they are.

Reporter: But what if something happens to them or they are killed in the Afghan prisons?

White House spokesperson: If something like that were to happen, I'm sure the State Department would send a sternly worded letter to the Afghan government expressing our disappointment.

Original content copyright © 2002-2005 Lynxx Pherrett. All rights reserved.